Simple Reasons Why Walking is More Than Fitness

Simple Reasons Why Walking is More Than Fitness

“Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars.” -Kahlil Gibran

Last weekend was quite disastrous. Oddly, I started to feel a cold developing right after plans fell through the cracks. It was nearly lunchtime, so my family and I opted to eat at Wendy’s while discussing how to make the most of the rest of the day. We could’ve have eaten this meal in our own town, but we made the trek to Elyria, Ohio. We were advised on places to check for my children’s missing father, to no avail. So, there we were, eating “comfort” food- burgers, fries, chicken, and pop. I ate a salad for good measure- it went well with the spicy chicken snack wrap.

I feel like we cheated ourselves on choosing to eat fast-food. It seemed like a satisfying choice after running around all morning and driving for an hour. My mind probably sent off a dysfunctional signal to be rewarded by carbs and convenience. Now that I am being reflective, I am starting to see unhealthy patterns in our lives.

Unhealthy patterns weren’t the only ways in which my family coped with distress that day. I suggested that we visit the old park where my kids played as very young children. It had been over 10 years since those early days of spinning around on the merry-go-round and the tire swing. In more recent years, we spent time at the park, scaling the rocks and blazing the trails.

Last week, when we visited Elyria, we were excited to see the renovations to Cascade Park. Although the park has now been landscaped differently- seemingly, with fewer trees and no access to the bridge, I  found it to be more appealing to people that like to walk. Prior to renovations, the focal points of the park were the central playground, followed by the two smaller playgrounds. Over the years, we watched in despair as many of the pieces of equipment were left in states of disrepair. Kids no longer could take a ride on the bouncy car. There were a few enclosures filled with tables for families or couples to pause and enjoy the rolling green fields, or vast, lush trees.

The most important thing about last week was the time spent with family. In that time, we walked the newly-paved sidewalks and revisited the familiar rocks and caverns. For various reasons, walking was a breath of fresh air. Walking is therapeutic and it’s more than fitness.

Healthy Distraction

We burned off our pent-up anxiety by walking. My mouth was a mile a minute, partly because I was angry, partly because I was rapid-cycling. We didn’t spend much time talking about the disappointment of the day. Instead, we talked about silly things. I also wish to say, there are a time and place where it becomes necessary to dig deeper into emotions, lest one might become prone to depression or resentment. I experienced depression following last weekend, but the depression was more intense than usual, on account of being sick.

Simple Reasons Why Walking is More Than Fitness

Dialog- With Self and Others

Ever since I was a kid, walking around with friends has always been an easy (and free) way of socializing. It seems as though my kids aren’t always willing to go for a walk with me, though they might be more inclined to walk with their friends, nevertheless, when I coax them to walk with me, we usually have good discussions. Sometimes, we generate ideas by brainstorming with one another while walking.

Simple Reasons Why Walking is More Than Fitness

Change of Scenery

Being around new scenes enables me to crawl out of the rut I’ve been wallowing. I think for this reason is why I’m able to generate ideas while walking. Of course, being with family or just moving in general, are also contributing factors.

While walking at the park, we saw many new faces and observed some subtle nuances in the environment. Perhaps my mind was working behind the scenes- trying to decode the changes and nuances, while my higher level dealt with the anger and disappointment in the preceding circumstances.

The visual beauty of walking is obvious. In Ohio, trees are abundant on many of the trails. One is almost always lucky enough to stumble upon a river or creek at many of the parks and trails.

A change in scenery and a breath of fresh air are a feast to both the mind and body. We can nurture ourselves by sharing a good walk with others- or, even just ourselves.

Simple Reasons Why Walking is More Than Fitness

20190511_132447

Advertisements

Understanding Unspecified Depression Type Diagnosis

A doctor holding red stethoscope.

The last seven years of my medical history have been confusing. When I looked over my medical summaries, I noticed I was diagnosed with depression, in some way, shape, or form for these years. I guess since I declined to take prescription medicines for my depression, the doctor(s) may have just decided to not look further into my issues. Maybe they just thought I was resistant, or crazy.

Lately, I’ve been getting stressed at work. In most cases, I think I can manage, but sometimes things are beyond my control. For instance, there are times we are required to work overtime- 12 days straight. Also, the expectations of my company keep changing. More is demanded at times, at other times, I feel bored, unchallenged and unappreciated.

In any event, I knew my previous medical practice wasn’t good for me. I felt like I needed a doctor with good reviews. I researched the doctors in my insurance directory and discovered one in town that was a D.O., instead of an M.D. The difference is an M.D. is a Doctor of Medicine, while a D.O. is a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine. From my understanding, there is very little difference as far as certification and training:

“While osteopathic programs tend to be less competitive than allopathic medical schools, students in both programs receive similar training. However, osteopathic schools have a stronger focus on alternative therapies, holistic medicine, and disease prevention.” (www.gulfbend.org)

  • This factor appealed to me since I am one that has been resistant to taking prescription medications.
  • I went to the new doctor for convenience (he is located in town, as opposed to my previous doctor, who was about 12 miles from my home).

I went to establish a new doctor, but I discovered I have ectopic heartbeats, or, extra heartbeats. Soon, I will have to wear a Holter monitor to find out more information.

Also, my diagnosis included:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression, unspecified depression type
  • Fatigue, unspecified type.

Depression, unspecified depression type is often used at the beginning of medical diagnosis and treatment. This category is used when there is not yet enough information. Once the doctor has my information, he or she may proceed to choose a more specific condition.

As far as the other conditions are concerned, I suppose I could worry. I’ve read that PVC’s- Premature Ventricular Contractions, can be induced by anxiety. Sometimes the PVCs are nothing to worry about if all else is normal. It could also be a sign of underlying heart disease.

My new doctor asked me if I felt any fluttering in my chest, to which I replied that I hadn’t noticed. I’ve been so consumed about mood disorders, I took for granted the fact that just because I have had a long history of anxiety and depression, doesn’t mean that I can’t have other problems. I’ve been accustomed to “invisible” problems for so long that I ignored my “visible” problems.

Such is the case for me. I become blinded by my own thought patterns. I really wanted my doctor to look into this aspect of my health too.

References:

  1.  https://medschool.ucla.edu/body.cfm?id=1158&action=detail&ref=1019
  2. https://www.nchmd.org/education/mayo-health-library/details/CON-20376741
  3. https://www.gulfbend.org/poc/view_doc.php?type=doc&id=12992&cn=5

3 Important People in Your Anxiety Treatment

“People tend to dwell more on negative things than on good things. So the mind then becomes obsessed with negative things, with judgments, guilt, and anxiety produced by thoughts about the future and so on.” -Eckhart Tolle

In the US, over 40 million people are affected by an anxiety disorder. Although it is highly-treatable, it’s reported that only about 37% of affected individuals receive treatment. (ADAA).

6 Types of Anxiety Disorders

  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder
  • Panic Disorder
  • Social Anxiety Disorder
  • Specific Phobias
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
  • Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

When you consider the various sub-categories listed under “specific phobias”, one can conclude there is a multitude of anxiety types. These subtypes are broadly-defined:

3 Types of Phobias

    1. Agoraphobia– A fear, anxiety, or avoidance of non-specific situations where one may not be able to escape or get help if a panic attack occurs.
    2. Specific Phobia– A fear, anxiety, or avoidance of specific situations or object (i.e, a fear of flying, a fear of needles, or the fear of spiders qualify as specific phobias).
  • Social Anxiety Disorder– A fear, anxiety, or avoidance of social situations. Intense fear in social situations includes the fear of appearing foolish, which can physically by way of blushing, shaking, sweating, etc.

Scientists believe there are a complex variety of factors that cause anxiety disorders, but they can be simplified into two broad categories.

  1. Genetics– A family history of anxiety disorders is a significant indicator of being predisposed.
  2. Environment– Traumatic, stressful, or exposure to violence can cause individuals to develop anxiety disorders. (NAMI).

Identifying the sources of anxiety disorders can be complex and confusing, hence why it is especially important to first see your doctor to eliminate the possible physical cause that mimics anxiety disorders.

It is also important to do whatever you can to reduce or eliminate sources that cause you to feel more anxious or nervous. For instance, you can opt to drink decaffeinated coffee instead of regular coffee. Some dietary choices can improve the physical aspects of anxiety. Simple choices are only the beginning of managing anxiety disorders.

Anxiety Disorders Originate In The Recesses Of Our Brains

“According to the National Institute of Mental Health, there are two parts of the brain that are key players in the production and processing of anxiety – the amygdala and the hippocampus.” (Neurocore Brain Performance Centers).

Our brains- and our specific human experiences- are complex and vast, but the good news is that only you fully understand yourself! Conversely, others on your mental health “team” (i.e., your family doctor, your nutritionist, your spiritual advisor, therapists, counselors, and other qualified mental health professionals).

The Family Doctor

You may opt to schedule an appointment with your family doctor before or after you’ve had time to reflect and write down information on your anxiety disorder. You may have learned from school or work that you don’t like public speaking or crowds. It will be most beneficial of you to have notes and information to offer your doctor when attending your appointments.

Don’t be discouraged if your family doctor seems to focus on the “externals” more than the “internals”. The doctor may offer you unwanted advice, such as losing weight, getting more exercise, or reducing the amount of caffeine or alcohol you consume. These are important steps in the management of your anxiety, although, they are often not the only steps to pursue.

Therapists

As I mentioned earlier, each individual has their own unique and complex brain and set of experiences. There isn’t a “one size fits all” approach to anxiety. Medications may work for one person but may be ineffective for another. Many individuals prefer to manage their anxiety through therapy. Therapy types are as varied as the individuals seeking treatment, so be sure to have a solid good understanding of each type.

Traditional  Psychotherapy

  • Interpersonal therapy
  • CBT (Cognitive/Behavioral Therapy)
  • Psychodynamic Therapy

Non-Traditional Therapies

  • Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction model (Jon Kabat-Zinn)
  • EMDR- Eye Movement Desensitization Resolution (Often for individuals suffering from PTSD).
  • Interpersonal and Social Rhythm Therapy (IPSRT)- Developed to understand and improve moods, based on biological and social rhythms. (“Taking Charge”, University of Minnesota).

There are other therapies, which include group therapy, family therapy, and emotion-focused therapy. (Types of Therapy).

Help Yourself (And Others) Treat Your Anxiety Disorders

You may be limited in your choices of family doctors, based on where you live or the type of medical insurance you carry. Additionally, your medical insurance may limit the type of therapy or mental health services you can receive. Be sure to obtain a provider directory and handbook from your insurer to ensure you choose providers your insurance will cover, or you may end up paying more than you can afford for your treatment.

Consider what your own preferences are along with what your insurance will offer. Is your local family doctor in your network? If not, you may have to choose another or decide if it’s worth it to pay out-of-pocket.

In addition to receiving medical care and therapy, be sure to consider your own interests, and how they can be applied to help you manage and treat your anxiety.

“To know thyself is the beginning of wisdom.” -Socrates.

  • Are you artistic? Why not try painting when you need to calm down?
  • Are you a kinetic person? Do you have lots of energy? Why not try jogging to release some negative energy?
  • Are you an emotional or sensitive person? Why not channel your inner-poet and write something expressive?

When you know yourself, you have insight and wisdom about yourself, and thus, can make better decisions on how to treat yourself. You will not be able to treat anxiety effectively- at least, not in most circumstances, without the help of others. For some, that includes doctors and therapists. Many people wish to augment treatment by using their faith and spirituality. The most important thing to realize is that you can get the most out of managing anxiety if A) you understand yourself and B) you allow others to help.

References:

  1. https://www.nami.org/Learn-More/Mental-Health-Conditions/Anxiety-Disorders
  2. https://www.mentalhelp.net/articles/specific-phobias-and-social-anxiety-disorder-social-phobia/
  3. https://www.neurocorecenters.com/blog/depression-anxiety-stresseffects-of-stress-anxiety-on-brain
  4. https://keltymentalhealth.ca/types-of-therapy
  5. https://www.takingcharge.csh.umn.edu/what-types-psychotherapy-are-helpful-anxiety-and-depression
  6. https://www.2knowmyself.com/The_kinesthetic_personality_type
  7. https://sciencing.com/kinetic-energy-potential-energy-apply-everyday-life-15430.html
  8. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/changepower/201603/know-yourself-6-specific-ways-know-who-you-are

When Painful Childhood Memories Leave a Lasting Impression

A few weeks ago, I was contacted by a distant relative on a genealogy website. She motivated me to obtain and scan old family photos to share on the site. Of course, I was delighted to find somebody that shared an interest in our family’s roots. My dad agreed to let me have his family photos and records.

In the past week after all my work of scanning photos, I felt unsettled. There are brokenness and trauma in my family. My grandfather suffered a blow to the head and died several years after he sustained injuries to his brain. He had two failed marriages and some of his children moved out of state. Whatever his problems were with his wives and children, to me he was my beloved grandfather. To my family, we were all hurt deeply by his death and suffering.

Our family moved into the house my grandfather used to live and my parents began fighting began when I was 10 years of age. I was beginning to put on weight prior to these changes in the home. I can remember being a little on the chubby side back when I was in kindergarten. My mom often ridiculed me and called me, “Tubby”, “Tub-of-Lard,” “Baby Huey” and a number of other variations. Sometimes if I was quick enough, I could see her making fun of my lazy eye, or encouraging other family members to do so. If others tried to console me, she would say that I was trying to be “babied.” After a while, hugs and attention from people embarrassed me. I kept my emotions stuffed and I got stuffed in my appearance! The only time I showed weakness was when I stayed at my grandmother’s house and my mom wasn’t lurking nearby to monitor conversations.

So when I see a few photos of myself from age 5 until age 11, I can clearly see that my problems got bigger at the time of upheaval in our family. When I was 10, I stayed outside every chance I could so I could be with the neighborhood kids, playing baseball, or riding bikes. My stomach had expanded so much that I couldn’t just buy regular clothes. I was relegated to wear “husky” pants (now called “plus” for girls), and they were unattractive. I didn’t want to wear dresses or try to look pretty anymore. This type of behavior went on until I was 14 years old and began starving myself for a few years.

The odd thing was that my mom seemed nicer to me when I lost weight, but she found out I was not eating. In order to avoid fighting, I ate the bare minimum amount of food in her presence. At school and everywhere else, I ate almost nothing and loved to hear my stomach grumble. A grumbling stomach equated with acceptance by others, and it meant that I was losing weight.

Time has a way of helping you change your course, but some pain remains. Therapy probably helps many people, but I just lack the time and commitment to seeing a therapist regularly.

How I Refresh When I’m Depressed

A smiling woman, standing near trees.

“If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there”- George Harrison

For several weeks, I have neglected my writing, my drawings, my dreams, and my passions. Why? Because I am depressed. As a result, I feel hopeless and unmotivated. It is the same reason why I buy things and throw them out a week later, I suppose. When I feel ambitious, I buy things to “make changes”, to pursue a hobby or some other “worthy” cause. I become overwhelmed and depressed, and I figure my plans and abilities will fail, I simply discard my purchases.

Writing is my faithful outlet- I won’t throw away my laptop, but I may edit some of my ideas on the computer. I have written essays to process my feelings, to aid in my research and recovery of mental health issues. When I have a problem, I turn to the internet or books to help me understand; I usually feel compelled to write while researching a topic.

But even now, I have only recently begun to feel like writing again. I had hoped to be making progress in composing a collection of essays to be published, either independently, or otherwise. I don’t like waiting months for a response and I feel I want control over my work. I have been feeling like I’m drifting, sailing mindlessly, with nothing to do but observe the grim scenery. I’ve come to realize, despite my depression, bipolar people can still do some things, even when they are crippled by mood fluctuations.

How To Work On Your Dreams Even When You’re Depressed:

Work on smaller tasks that help you achieve your goals.

When I feel too depressed to write, I should accept the fact that I won’t probably compose a novel in that state, but at least I can make an effort to put my thoughts, ideas, or any other “fragment” down on paper. The mind can gather and begin to subconsciously work in a way to move me to write once again.

Peruse the internet to find support groups and tips.

Many people are in the same place, looking for answers and support.

Remind yourself of your dreams and how they are a great part of you!

No matter what others think of me, no matter how lousy life has become, I am grounded in at least one passion. I don’t seek approval from others when I am depressed because people tend to view depressed individuals in a negative way. Thankfully, I’m an introverted person- I don’t need other people to make me feel better. It is a boost to my ego when I do feel accepted by others, however.

Get some fresh air and some fresh perspective.

Maybe circumstances and people are creating a climate that is toxic. Get around new people, go for a walk, listen to music to drown out some of the toxicity.

Read!

Being a writer means I must be a reader too. When  I am uninspired, I read inspirational stories of other writers. In the midst of feeling depressed, I read articles about how to improve my mental health. I understand that with my mood disorder, I am prone to bouts of depression- I have almost accepted this fact of life. Reading about mood disorders helps me to feel less anxious and isolated.

Recently, I bought myself a Kindle and I’ve discovered a wealth of free ebooks on self-improvement, mental health, productivity, and creativity. Every chance I had a break at work, I read a few ebooks, got inspired and more motivated.

Sometimes, acceptance is a great way to overcome depression. When I’m depressed, I tend to consume too much caffeine. I drink coffee compulsively, sometimes to fill the emptiness in my time, or to curb physical hunger. This behavior wrecks my eating patterns, as I often “crash” from this caffeinated-diet and I supplement my diet with junk food. I don’t always accept my poor eating habits- but I make concessions for them.

Acceptance, a positive attitude about something that can’t be changed- but I can change my shopping, cooking and eating habits. There is often an issue with anxiety that I am unwilling to exchange for a healthier habit (such as eating right). With depression, there are often many layers of behavioral issues that need to be managed. If I am too overwhelmed to pursue healthier choices, I have enabled internal and external factors to influence my life. Despite living with unresolved issues, but because one can choose to acknowledge that which is “unresolved”, acceptance is authentic. Choosing acceptance doesn’t mean I am free to mull over poor choices, rather, it is a way a life sometimes.

The 5 Components Necessary For Well-Being

A woman relaxing on a hammock.

Maintaining clarity is difficult, especially when you are depressed or experiencing burnout. Often, something is missing from one of these basic components to well-being if you are unhappy. It is important to consider each of these elements when we begin to feel unbalanced.

  • Physical
  • Mental
  • Emotional
  • Social
  • Spiritual

The Physical Component:

Getting the right amount of sleep and exercise are essential to physical health. Having access to good (and affordable) nutrition (not junk-food or convenience foods) is also important. When your body is depleted of the vitamins and minerals needed to maintain a healthy body, and you consume “empty” calories, your body and mind aren’t getting what they need to thrive, you will be more vulnerable to illness, fatigue and even memory problems.

All these can affect your performance at work- which is another very important aspect of wellness (social, financial, “career” well-being).

The Mental Component:

Optimal mental health can be defined as realizing one’s potential and having sufficient confidence and self-esteem. When an individual’s mental health is balanced, they are able to manage stress better, express their anger and moods appropriately, set goals, build friendships, and have a good view about themselves and their bodies.

The Emotional Component:

Exploring your intellect and getting insight is part of emotional well-being. It is the ability to see our problems and find ways to manage them. We also have compassion and empathy for others when we have optimal emotional well-being. Relationships with our friends, family, and co-workers are improved when we are well-balanced and our emotional component (as well as all components) are nurtured.

The Social Component:

The ability to build and maintain strong relationships and social networks is an important component of our overall well-being. Interacting, communicating, negotiating, trusting, and setting boundaries with others comes from the social component of our well-being. When we can socialize with others in meaningful and healthy ways, we, in turn, are able to reciprocate and receive needed support and guidance. Without proper social support, feelings of isolation or alienation may take root and hinder our well-being.

The Spiritual Component:

Spiritual well-being is the search for purpose and significance. Many people satisfy their spiritual component by participating in worship and religious activities, yoga, meditation, quiet time or by spending time in nature. Fulfillment, altruism, mindfulness are satisfied with the spiritual component.

When The 5 Components of Well-Being Lack or Overlap

Since well-being is holistic, meaning we depend on each and every component to function properly for our overall wellness. The components overlap each other- for instance, if you don’t get enough sleep (physical), you may be too tired to carry out your daily tasks (mental, emotional, social). Some of us lack the 5 components because of things beyond our control. When things are beyond our control, we don’t have a sense of mastery over our tasks.

A good example is working in a job where you don’t feel valued or respected. Perhaps, responsibilities are being removed or shifted to other workers without your input. You feel alienated and disregarded. It may be difficult for you to find another job. You may not have access to reliable transportation or childcare. This would be a situation where you would have to make the best of a situation or make some difficult choices. Perhaps you can explore a hobby to satisfy your sense of mastery, or you could write in a journal to gain insight and set goals for the future, or take classes to satisfy your intellectual curiosity. All of these things can help to improve your confidence and combat the stressors that are beyond your control.

Take Small Steps, Make and Maintain Small Goals To Start

What if you have too many responsibilities to meditate or pursue spiritual activities? You may have anxiety issues (perhaps repressed or unresolved issues) that prevent you from socializing as you would like to pursue? Perhaps you don’t have good social connections, or you feel judged and alienated by your peers, or you observe social cues that signal you don’t “belong”. Make use of one of the 5 components in which you are stronger- for instance, if you have good physical health, or a strong attitude and joy from exercising, you could do running and change your physical environment for the moment by being outside.

Being in nature helps us physically (fresh air) and spiritually (created environment). This environmental change refreshes us and allows us to see what is in the world beyond our cubicle and our own problems.

  • Set aside 5 minutes a day to pursue a spiritual goal, such as prayer, meditation, reading spiritual books.
  • Skip time with negative people and try to encourage or say “hi” to somebody else.
  • Read and understand the meaning of the serenity prayer. Apply it to your life!

“God grant us the serenity to accept the things we cannot change, the courage to change the things we can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

  • Talk to trusted people, or reach out to an online community or counselor.
  • Be sure to get an annual physical to check for underlying health issues.
  • Take a self-paced (free) online class.
  • Visit a museum for beauty and fresh perspective.
  • Write in a journal for insight and reflection.
  • Research and evaluate your personality.
  • Evaluate your values. Do they line up your physical environment? Does your career satisfy these values? Does the culture of your company align with your values? What small (or big) changes can be made to improve your daily interactions and surroundings?

How to Balance the 7 Elements of Wellness

A woman with outstretched arms near a lake.

“Health is not everything, but without health, everything is nothing” (cited from Arthur Schopenhauer, German philosopher, 1788-1860).

Insulating Your Health With The 7 Dimensions of Wellness

While physical health is the most obvious part of wellness, there are several dimensions that are integrated to create healthy wellbeing. These seven elements of holistic wellness- physical health, spiritual health, and mental health- are indicated as:

  • Occupational- Finding work that maximizes your talents and abilities, honing your professional skills, determining your career goals, exploring opportunities for growth, taking vocational assessments.
  • Environmental- Spending time in nature and in pleasant environments, reducing or eliminating harmful noises and exposure to harmful pollutants.
  • Physical- Exercise, nutrition, sleep, weight management, protecting your body and being mindful of any changes or symptoms of illness. Hygiene and preventative measures are also important.
  • Emotional- Giving and receiving support, self-esteem, the ability to express emotions and share feelings, managing time and stress optimally.
  • Spiritual- Spending time alone, participating in religious or worship activities that satisfy your desire to understand your purpose in this world.
  • Social- Sharing your knowledge or skills with others, getting involved within your community or by volunteering, sharing your ideas and thoughts, (ala a suggestion box, for instance).
  • Intellectual- Keeping an active mind, reading, taking classes, being inspired by people or activities that challenge your thinking.

When Imbalance Occurs, We Are Less Resilient

At times, various aspects of our wellbeing dominate our lives, while other aspects may be neglected. When we become imbalanced in any one of the elements, our overall wellness is affected and we may be less resilient to handle additional stressors. It is important to accept that “life” sometimes happens and some events and exterior influences are beyond our control.

Adopting a few practical tips can help you overcome stress:

Adopting a few practical tips can help you overcome stress:

Avoid or limit exposure to triggering or stressful tasks or associations.

  • Be assertive.
  • Know your limits.
  • Maintain a flexible attitude and be willing to healthy compromises.
  • Keep things in perspective. Will it matter a month from now?
  • Practice forgiveness to release negativity.
  • Manage your time.
  • Ask for help.

Sources:

(https://www.grcc.edu/humanresources/wellness/sevendimensionsofwellness).
(https://www.emaze.com/@AIRQQRFI).